Thursday, July 16, 2015

     





           I Could Have Written That!








      Did you ever get that terrifying feeling in your chest or your gut when you were about to get up in front of a group and perform? Did your palms sweat and beads of perspiration pop out over your upper lip and drip down onto your chin? Did your heart race so fast you were sure you were having a heart attack? Did you fear passing out in front of God and everyone reminding you of your mother’s advice about clean drawers? Then you have experienced stage fright.

     As a frequent public speaker and pianist, I have endured the above more times than I wish to admit. As I recently finished the fourth performance of my one-woman show, I was annoyed to see that some woman wrote a book about stage fright. Don’t you hate it when you planned to do something great, and some idiot beat you to it? I could have written this damned story in my sleep, but she did it first. What’s worse, I just paid good money to buy a copy. 

     Last night, I sat down to read this woman’s Memoirs about her years of not performing due to her debilitating condition and then going on stage at age 56. She quoted famous people who share this condition such as Adele (who vomits on stage), Horowitz who was taken kicking and screaming to a performance, Barbara Streisand, who went into hiding for years and numerous others. I knew about all these, as I had begun to research Performance Anxiety months ago with the intention of writing a book about it. Alas, someone besides Memoir-lady wrote the book. It’s entitled, Performance Anxiety. Who knew? Now that book was totally enlightening, and it explains all of my FOO (Family Of Origin) issues which ignite my condition once I step foot on a stage. My condition is not limited to an auditorium stage, however, I have this in the kitchen, at cocktail parties and at the DMV.

     To return to my initial reading of Memoir-lady’s recent release, I had to put it down. Yup. With each sentence I read, the adrenaline heated up, and by the time I was at the bottom of page 2, I was back on stage shaking my ass off. So I put it down. Why add her symptoms to my already long list. My father used to say, “If you’re not nervous, you won’t perform well.” Guess what? That’s bull shit. Nervous doesn’t help; it hinders. Do you think 32nd notes flow easier when your hands are shaking like Kim K’s butt? Do you think it’s easier to “feel” the music, when you’re arms are paralyzed, and there’s no saliva in your mouth? Nope, nervous sucks. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

     Two months ago,I performed on stage in a state-of-the-art recital hall before over 100 people. It was the thrill of my adult life. I was nervous, but I wasn’t paralyzed. I played and spoke better than I ever could have imagined. How did I do that? I have no idea, but I did. I have no tricks, no formula, no advice. Maybe it was just dumb luck, but practice, practice, practice is the best cure for scared. Maybe it has to do with what’s at stake. For me, there was no monetary reward, no music critic to deal with, no reputation to establish or live up to—it was just for fun, just because. 


     I will not read the Memoir-lady’s book, and I will don my stilettos and my gown and perform it again. If the symptoms are there, so be it. If I tumble and fall, life goes on. I will be yesterday’s news. The world has other things to deal with. If Memoir-lady wants to write a best seller and scare the beejeebees out of every performer, I say, “Go for it.” I’ll be home practicing, practicing, practicing.